The core actors of the STAN collective stand alone on the stage for the first time since1997 and it as if they have never been apart. Theatre is a mirror of reality and appearances are deceptive.

Not since Private Lives have all four members of the STAN group (Jolente De Keersmaeker, Sara de Roo, Damiaan De Schrijver and Frank Vercruyssen) been together on stage. Of/niet ( or/not ) is not only a reunion of the actors but also of their interests. The production embraces their love of comedy ( Poquelin ), their fascination with discommunication ( 'zien en zien'/’see and see’ ), political commitment ( Vraagzucht/Questionism ) and all that with a metatheatre nod ( vandeneede... ). Because of course when it comes to ‘appearances’, the same applies to theatre.

As a production of/niet is also a feint. STAN kicks off with Harold Pinter’s Party Time , a sketch lampooning the well-to-do gathered together in a private club, who prefer to turn a blind eye to the outside world where war is raging. The earthly paradise with swimming pool exists just so long as you surround it with enough high-security fences.

Pinter has merely provided the framework for a ‘family portrait’ when the actors switch to Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking . And again in that situation comedy everything revolves around the deceptiveness of appearances. Greg, who wants to marry Ginny, the woman he loves, finds slippers under her bed and an address on a package. "Of my parents", she says and she rushes off to her ‘parent’s’. He wants to surprise her and knocks on the door of the parental home… which turns out to be the house of her former lover and his unsuspecting wife.

The STANners have a wonderful time in this web of misunderstandings, as does the audience. True to form, the actors occasionally forget their script or have a fit of the giggles. Really? The audience may laugh, but the situations that arise are painfully recognizable. STAN’s question is: do we laugh back at the picture we see of ourselves? Or not?

De Morgen, Liv Laveyne, April 26th 2006